Using the Scientific Method for the ASVAB

By Rod Powers

You will need to know the how to apply the scientific method for the ASVAB. Scientists are pretty skeptical. They don’t necessarily believe anything said by anyone else unless it’s been shown to be true (time after time after time) using a process called the scientific method.

Scientists know that personal and cultural biases may influence perceptions and interpretations of data, so they’ve derived a standard set of procedures and criteria to minimize those influences when developing a theory. Because the scientific method is prevalent in all fields of science, you can expect to see a few questions about the process on the General Science subtest.

Here are the usual steps to solving a problem using the scientific method:

  1. Observe some aspect of the universe.

  2. Develop an explanation (theory) about why this is happening.

  3. Make a prediction (hypothesis) based on the theory.

  4. Experiment and observe to test the hypothesis.

  5. If the results don’t match the hypothesis, modify the theory and create a new hypothesis.

  6. Keep repeating Steps 3, 4, and 5 until the hypothesis and experiment match.

When developing and testing a theory, scientists are guided by a principle known as Occam’s razor. This rule states, “When given two equally valid explanations for a phenomenon, one should embrace the less complicated formulation.” In other words, the simplest theory that explains the facts is usually the best one. If a theory holds up to repeated testing, scientists gain confidence in it, and a hypothesis that’s supported consistently over time eventually comes to be considered as a law, fact, or principle.